Under pressure to avoid a third Allianz Football League relegation in a row, Westmeath face a tricky Division 3 assignment away to Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday evening.
Both Limerick and Westmeath have only registered one point from their first four encounters in the competition, so the upcoming match is vital. Last weekend manager Tom Cribbin was disappointed with how Westmeath were soundly defeated by Clare, who cruised to a surprisingly convincing success. “I’ve no excuse, I don’t know what happened us,” Cribbin said about the game in which Clare emerged emphatic 1-18 to 0-10 winners.
“We were looking forward to it, we thought we could turn them over. We just didn’t perform. I don’t know why it went so badly wrong for us and why we struggled in so many positions.”
Significant improvement will be required when Westmeath travel to Limerick for what is now a crucial fixture. Meanwhile, in Division 2A of the Allianz Hurling League, Westmeath maintained their excellent start with a 2-11 to 0-10 triumph over Antrim in Mullingar.
Boss Michael Ryan believes Westmeath are moving quickly in the right direction: “We are pleased with the result, but there are a lot of aspects I wouldn’t be happy about,” he commented. “Overall, I suppose to win the game we’d be happy enough. We have three games played, we have three games won. There is a huge amount of work to be done.”
Ryan is adamant, though, that Westmeath need to be more clinical converting opportunities: “I thought our defence played well, we closed them down very, very well,” he said. “The only thing I’d worry about is that we have got to start really taking our chances up front. There are loads of positives there, but we have no room for complacency. We have two big games to go.”
Another source of encouragement for Westmeath, who face Kildare at Newbridge on Saturday, is the increasing depth of the panel according to Ryan. “There is great competition for places,” he said. “Overall, I’m very happy with the attitude of the players, they really want to drive Westmeath on.”